The majority of the population is aware that South Africa needs tourism and investment to help grow the country’s economy, and feels that South Africa has the potential to become a truly wealthy and powerful nation.
The research also reveals that some 36% of South Africans are already ardent ambassadors for the country.
A further 11% of the population, or some 1,8-million adults, are willing to become involved in marketing the country in their various spheres of influence, but lack the relevant information and confidence to do so.
The research revealed that only a marginal 7% of the population are not willing to get involved in the positive marketing of the country.
These results are very encouraging forThe International Marketing Council (IMC) of South Africa, given the challenge of creating a national brand that will build national pride, and position South Africa to attract tourism and investment.
Its message, ‘South Africa, alive with possibility’ was developed after 18 months of consultation with some 25 100 people, from international investors to local rural communities. Last month saw the beginning of the IMC’s national brand roll-out in the form of a comprehensive advertising and communications campaign, aimed at communicating ten good-news stories for every one bad story about the country.
“This brand roll-out strategy will take the form of a large-scale radio campaign, initially profiling seven ordinary South Africans, from all over the country, who have achieved extraordinary things,” CEO Yvonne Johnston tells Engineering News.
“Their stories will be broadcast in all eleven official languages on all national radio stations and a number of local community stations,” she says.
“Each story highlights a number of values and personality traits that illustrate a truly extraordinary South African spirit, such as perseverance, tenacity, and a can-do attitude,” explains Johnston.
The radio coverage will be followed up with a national television advertising campaign, taking the form of a two-minute television commercial, featuring well-known South African personalities who have achieved great things for the country, aimed at evoking a feeling of national pride among South Africans, she says.
The IMC will not be doing much international advertising of its own, but will rely on organisations such as South African Tourism, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the government communications department, as well as local multi-national companies, to carry the brand to the rest of the world.
The next big thrust of the IMC’s brand roll-out campaign, which will get under way later this year, involves special pro-motions to get South Africans to display their patriotism.
The organisation is planning a large promotional campaign for National Heritage Day and Proudly South African Day in September this year, when South Africans will be encouraged to hang South African flags on the walls and gates of their houses and offices as a sign of their national pride, says Johnston.
“We are currently in negotiations with various retail stores to provide do-it-yourself miniature flag assembly kits that South Africans can buy for the occasion.
“We are also investigating the sale of 6 m flag poles and full-size South African flags for large corporations to buy and display outside their offices,” she says.
April 2004 will mark the ten-year anniversary of freedom in South Africa, and the IMC, together with embassies from all over the world, will be putting together a programme to profile the progress that has been made in the country since 1994.
“The eyes of the world will be on South Africa to show what has been accomplished in the last ten years,” says Johnston.
The IMC is also in the process of developing a training module that can be fitted into the ongoing training programmes of major corporations, aimed at developing national pride, and educating employees on how they can make a difference in marketing the country in a positive way.
In addition, the IMC has developed a list of key role-players who will be able to carry and maximise the message of ‘Brand SA’ to the world.
These people are being educated about the brand to enable them to translate the message that South Africa is alive with possibility to their various industries and international counterparts.
The IMC has also identified a list of frontline organisations which are dependent on selling the image of the country before they can sell their products.
These companies, such as the JSE Securities Exchange, South African Airways, South African wines and local companies listed on international stock exchanges, have a vested interest in the success of a South African brand and will play a large role in communicating this unified brand to the world through their international interactions.
Besides the development and roll-out of the South African brand, the IMC has also launched the world’s first country Web portal.
The 1 200 pages of information on the site provides update information on infrastructure,investment, tourism and government, with links to more than a hundred other South African sites.
The IMC has also launched a communication resource centre, in Pretoria, which provides the first-ever monitoring and analysis of what the international media is reporting about South Africa.
The centre, with a database of more than 1 200 international journalists, also develops same-day positive responses to any negative news reported in the international media.
Each of these responses contains brand messaging which is conveyed in the communication sent out.
In addition, the information resource centre, set up by the IMC, houses good-news stories about South Africa, which are disseminated via media and e-mail.
To date more than 5 000 people have subscribed to receive good-news stories via e-mail.
Business people travelling abroad can contact the information resource centre for already made business information pack, including quick facts and business success stories about the country, that can be used by local business people in their interactions with business people abroad.
These packs will also be produced with a specific export, tourism and people focus.
Sport is another important way to build national pride and market a country positively to investors abroad. An example of this was the Cricket World Cup held in South Africa earlier this year, where not one criminal incident was reported to the authorities in the 54 days of the tournament, says Johnston.
“Thousands of journalists and cricket fans from all over the world flocked to South Africa, and not one was affected by crime in this country,” she says.
This great success will be used by Sport and Recreation South Africa to attract other major sporting events to the country in the future.
The creation of the IMC, driven largely by the International Investment Council, occurred in response to the need to communicate South Africa as a leading emerging market, and to clarify the disparity between the perceptions of the country and the reality.
At present South Africa is mostly positioned by negative headlines in the national and international media.
“Negative perceptions about South Africa’s image and reputation have damaged the country’s ability to compete at full capacity in world markets, to encourage investment, to create jobs and to attract tourists,” says Johnston.
The IMC’s task is to actively position the country, and to make sure that perceptions are correct and accurate.